Owning and running a small business has its own unique set of challenges. There can be a lot of work and with it a lot of stress. If left unmanaged this stress can get the best of you. In running a small business there is a lot of energy and passion required to manage every aspect, and to help it grow. To keep that energy you need to take care of your health, physical and mental.
Focusing on mental health is never selfish or silly. Stepping back and focusing on improving your mental health is often necessary to improve your wellbeing, and find that energy needed to keep working with your business.
You aren’t alone either. According to Smart Company, 56% of small business owners are struggling with their mental health. They also found that 57% are overstressed, and 8 in 10 are sacrificing sleep. Fortunately, there is a lot of help and support out there for small business owners to help in improving their mental health so you can be back on your A game again.
Signs you should seek help
Before we begin there are certain signs you should look out for to see whether your mental health has been affected or not. Many people struggle to identify signs on their own, so we have created this list to help you out. Remember, mental health is real and important, so if you experience any of these regularly, or even semi-regularly, you are not being silly or selfish, it is ok to acknowledge that you need help. Some signs are as follows:
Signs at home:
- You feel anxious, angry or withdrawn
- You feel low on energy and your passion or motivation is gone
- You find yourself procrastinating, causing stress to build and more problems later on
- You struggle to sleep or find sleeping difficult
- An increase in drinking alcohol or other addictive behaviours as a coping mechanism
Signs at work:
- You are becoming less connected with staff, customers, and suppliers
- You are less engaged, your attention to detail is slipping and you are becoming forgetful
- Administrative tasks are being put off
- You are taking longer to pay staff wages, bills, or to get things fixed
- You are not solutions focused
Signs your mental health has been severely affected:
- Having panic attacks or angry outbursts
- Your sleep patter has been impacted severely, leaving you feeling extremely fatigued
- You find yourself getting sick more often
- You feel depressed, socially withdrawn or isolated
- Not completing tasks or forgetting to complete them
- You have difficulty controlling your emotions at work.
What you can do to improve your mental health
Having a plan for you to follow when you find something building in your personal or work life has begun to affect your everyday activities is a great way to help yourself out. The plan involves finding simple actions you can do when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed. Things like taking a break, going for a walk, or getting to bed earlier can all be effective measures in protecting your mental health. Preventative measures are far more sustainable and effective in helping your mental health than reactive measures.
Be realistic about what you can achieve
Get organised about your tasks and what you want to achieve for the day. You can use a to-do list or planner to help you stay organised. However, it is important that work doesn’t take up all your day. Schedule in some things you enjoy doing. Spend time watching a movie, or go out for lunch with a friend. Life is all about balance. Keeping your work and personal life in balance will give you more energy and put you in a better mood to better accomplish your tasks.
Keep the hours you work in check
Working too much will burn you out. It is easier said than done, but keeping control of the hours your work will do wonders for your mental and physical health. You could hire more staff, get interns, find volunteers, or get support from friends and family. If you have to, you can also close briefly to allow you to catch your breath, and possibly get some much-needed rest. Reigning in the hours you work to get yourself back into a good state mentally is important.
Reach out to those in your life
There are many people out there ready to help take a load off your shoulders. It is important that if your mental health takes a hit that you reach out to them. Often, when in that state, you may find yourself withdrawing from friends and family, especially as work becomes more chaotic. But it is vital that at this time you reach out to them, spend time with them, and discuss how you are feeling. Talking about your emotions, your worries, and your stresses is a great way to process them and get any concerns off your chest.
If you need practical advice and support you can also reach out to a small business advisor or mentor. These people have been there and done it, many will understand exactly how you are feeling. They will be able to offer practical advice to help you with whatever in your business may be causing you stress. Talking to a mentor or business advisor and getting practical help will take a load off your shoulders, and may give you the renewed energy and passion you need. A good business advisor will also be able to see the signs of poor mental health and a business owner in stress, and will be able to help you out.
Seek professional help
If things are getting too much don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. Go to your GP, they will be able to direct you to some reputable psychologists in the area. Depending on your situation they may also get you to see a psychiatrist.
If you need support right now contact the following:
Beyond Blue Support Service: 1300 22 4636
Lifeline: 13 11 14
SANE: 1800 187 263
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Men’s Line Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Alcohol Drugs Information Service: 1800 250 015
National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000 (triple zero) or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
It is important to remember that what you are feeling is real, and valid. You are not “just being silly”, and it is ok to not feel ok. Often our mental health is pushed to the side as we focus on other things in our life. But that is unhealthy and could make things worse. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from those around you.
Link Strategies provides bookkeeping, Xero, and strategy services to small and medium businesses in Australia. We aim to help take the weight off business owners shoulders so you can focus more time on doing the things you love instead of bookkeeping or other admin tasks. We are passionate about helping your business. Come have a chat with our team today.